My sisters and I had my mom pegged, and we never grew tired of teasing her about it. When we asked my mom for something and she said, “We’ll see”, it always seemed to lead to a “no”. “Maybe” usually turned out to mean “yes”. So we would whine and beg, “Just say maybe, pleeeeeze!”
Now that I’m a mom and have learned that parenting is an endless list of really hard decisions that can make your head throb, I empathize with my unfairly outnumbered dear mother. Saying “no” never feels good, and yet parents must say it often, and with conviction.
But wise and witty clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel, author of the inspiring book, The Blessing of the Skinned Knee, and the upcoming The Blessing of the B Minus, said something truly enlightening at a recent lecture I attended. How often do we give our children a resounding YES? Not the ‘okays’, the things we agree to but have reservations about and give begrudgingly, or the ones our children have to badger us into and will then feel vaguely guilty about, but an unadulterated, wholehearted, YEAH!
Yes, sweetie, you can throw a penny into the fountain…in fact, take 3 and have a blast!
Yes, I’ll sit with you boys while you sell lemonade on the corner. Great idea!
Yes, my beautiful, responsible teenage daughter, go to the party with all those older hormonal teenage boys and have a fantastic time! Enjoy!
Has this been you? This hasn’t been me nearly as much as I would like it to be. And I wonder…is it hard for us to give ourselves full-fledged permission? Can we freely indulge a wish and feel certain we deserve it? How often do you say YES to yourself and to your children with gusto, and without doubt or guilt?
Janet Lansbury has guided parents for over 15 years. A former actress and model (Janet Julian), she is the mother of 3, teaches RIE parent/infant classes in Los Angeles, and writes articles about parenting on her blog: janetlansbury.com.